When it comes to RPGs I’m stuck in a kind of Final Fantasy bubble. It was the series which first got me into gaming and I have loved it ever since. I’ve dabbled here and there with other RPGs but none of them seem to quite reach the level of Final Fantasy, although many come very close, one of which is Rogue Galaxy for the PS2.
Released in 2007 by Level-5, the people behind Dragon Quest, Rogue Galaxy sees you travel the universe as Jaster Rogue, an ordinary boy from the desert planet, Rosa, who dreams of seeing the stars. What unfolds is a truly engrossing adventure with a host of interesting and uniquely designed characters.
The triumph of the game is its battle system which sees you immersed directly in the action. You have control of your actions, enabling you to jump, slash and shoot your enemies. Every character has two weapons, a main-weapon and sub-weapon, which not only provides a bit of variety in battle but also allows for some strategy. For example, Jaster’s main-weapons are swords whilst his sub-weapons are guns, so it is up to you to decide if it is best to engage in close-up slashing or long-distance shooting. Each character also has an array of abilities, some of which can only be performed if you have specific characters in your party; therefore it is up to you to adapt your team in order to win.
The levelling system is also a delight. As well as earning experience points to level up there is also the Revelation Flow which, similar to Final Fantasy X’s Sphere Grid system, requires you to place certain items into slots to learn and unlock new abilities. But unlike the Sphere Grid, each character has their own Revelation Flow so their abilities are unique to them and them alone.
Unfortunately the game’s plot does suffer in terms of originality. You travel to a planet, help somebody out and then advance to the next one. The majority of the ‘twists’ in the story are predictable and as a result don’t seem like twists at all. Let’s face it, how many times have we seen the ‘orphaned character actually comes from a famous/royal family’ twist? Or the ‘being betrayed by a trusted ally’ trick? Or the ‘innocent journey turns into a voyage to save the whole universe from a ruthless and evil adversary’ routine? Luckily, the gameplay makes up for this lack of imagination, but what sets the good RPGs apart from the excellent ones is arguably the depth of the story and if they had delved a bit deeper then this would be an excellent RPG.
That said, Rogue Galaxy is still a truly addictive and vastly enjoyable game with levels so large that they rival even Zelda dungeons. There are a variety of mini-games and side-quests to keep you entertained even after you have beaten the main game, such as: quarries to hunt, items to forge in your very own factory and you can even have a toad called, um, Toady eat two weapons and combine them into a stronger one. You will rarely find a dull moment in Rogue Galaxy which makes this a definite play for any RPG fans out there